$200,000 Citi Foundation grant to help the British Asian Trust accelerate growth of youth-led microenterprises and boost women employment in Pakistan

A six-year partnership between the British Asian Trust and Citi Foundation will now evolve to help scale and boost the employability of low-income, vulnerable young people in Pakistan, particularly young women.

Youth unemployment is already high in Pakistan but the pandemic and recent floods have exacerbated the situation. A British Asian Trust -Citi Foundation partnership dating back to 2016 and targeted to the needs of young entrepreneurs from low-income urban areas, has already helped develop 282 businesses, creating over 300 jobs and increase average monthly incomes by 75.1% for young project participants.

Spread across Sindh and Punjab, the programme enabled participants to increase their monthly revenue by an average of over 75% and by 117% in the case of young women entrepreneurs. In 2021, the programme pivoted to providing digital skills as the pandemic hit and supported recovery of enterprises (particularly those led by women) by enabling them to adopt digital technologies.

As part of the current partnership, six hundred young entrepreneurs are undergoing over 40 hours of face-to-face and online training over six months covering the basics of entrepreneurship and digital marketing.

The programme aims to accelerate growth of youth-led microenterprises in Pakistan, which will run from May 2022 until October 2023. The programme will directly support 200 young micro-entrepreneurs to increase their revenues and create new jobs, bringing the total number of youth benefitting from the partnership to over 1,000.

The project will also research systemic barriers around women’s access to employment and markets and based on the findings propose recommendations and practical solutions to address.

Ahmed Bozai, Citi Country Officer stated, “Citi Foundation and the British Asian Trust have a common goal to empower marginalised youth in the country and create pathways for a sustainable future. It gives me great pleasure to renew our commitment with the British Asian Trust and serve as a member of its Pakistan Advisory Council, enabling Citi Pakistan to provide strategic guidance to the Trust, in line with Citi Foundation’s mission of financial inclusion in the country.”

Thanks to the Citi Foundation’s support, the British Asian Trust’s various projects in Pakistan have supported more than 10,000 women and young people to improve their lives and income through employment or setting up their own enterprises.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the British Asian Trust said, “The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on many people’s lives and particularly on youth unemployment. This training will help young people to think outside the box by equipping them with the skills, knowledge and capabilities to take on the future. It’s a much-needed boost towards economic stability for them, but also helps change the economies of whole communities.”

This collective effort is part of Citi Foundation’s initiative “Pathways to Progress”, which aims to support underserved youth worldwide by 2023, providing them with useful tools to secure employment or start their own businesses.

The British Asian Trust also confirmed the appointment of Ahmed Bozai, Citi Country Officer, as a member of the Trust’s Pakistan Advisory Council, which provides strategic guidance and expertise to support the Trust’s growth in Pakistan. Mr. Bozai joins the Advisory Council alongside Mian Mansha (Nishat Group of Companies), Tariq Rangoonwala (Rangoonwala Group of Companies), Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari (Chairman Tourism Board), and Amin Lakhani (Lakson Group of Companies).